Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Case of the Missing Underpants

Perhaps this is fuelled by my underlying laziness, but I strongly believe that a family should be a team. No one person should do all the household jobs to keep everything tickity-boo. Everyone needs to play their part in making the house and family run smoothly. Like every other family (or are we really the only ones?) we go through phases of doling out jobs to our boys and phases of just getting on with it because it isn't worth the tumultuous battle.

Recently we have been in a 'jobs' phase. I realised that Toby (#1 son) is super organised and actually relishes the prospect of cleaning or tidying. It is never a fight to get him to do a job and he carries it out with careful precision. I also realised that because he is like this and Max (#2 son) is the total opposite, we never ask Max to do anything. Asking Max to clear the table and load the dishwasher would be like asking a pig to clean up it's own pigsty. Instead of cleaning, the mess would be spread more thoroughly around the room and the dishwasher would be loaded up so that it doesn't shut. You may think I exaggerate...... you should see his bedroom.

However, this is no excuse for Max not to learn how to help around the house. In fact, it gives us even more reason to teach him. He needs to learn to think of others. He, more so than Toby, needs to learn about planning and organisation and doing a few small jobs will help him with this. I do not want my boys to leave home without learning how to run a house. I do not want them to have to rely on another woman to cook for them, do their washing and clean up after them. They need to learn responsibility.

To combat this I decided to give Max the job of laying the table and putting his own clothes away after I have washed and (occasionally) ironed them. I leave them in his bedroom on a Monday morning, and on Monday evenings he puts them all away. Toby has been doing this for about 3 years without any hiccups. In fact, I think Toby privately enjoys the putting away process. The first week, I showed Max how to do it. The next week, I watched while he did it. Since then, he has done it without complaining and seems to enjoy the responsibility. This week, he even put away Jonah's clothes too.

Therein lies the problem. In putting away Jonah's clothes, he seems to have confused the process. I now find Jonah's shorts in Max's pyjama drawer and Max's socks in Jonah's t-shirt drawer. Not only that, but Max's underpants seem to have totally disappeared. We have looked through every drawer, on every surface and under every bed but the pants are not there. This leaves us with a dilemma. Whilst we want to encourage Max's brave attempts at organisation, we do not want to keep sacrificing essential items of clothing each week to the bottomless wardrobe of lost clothes. Perhaps they are with the odd socks that seem to magically disappear out of the washing machine. Do I go out and buy him more pants, only to find the old ones on my return, or do I keep searching?

We will continue with the uphill endeavours to teach our boys these important things. Despite lost clothes; dusting that spreads the dust instead of wiping it up; hoovering that misses out enormous chunks of a room; table laying that gives us back to front cutlery and folded clothes that get squashed up and squeezed into drawers only to become creased again; we will press on with our arduous mission.

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